Advice has been issued to pet owners after several dogs were stolen. 

Five cocker spaniels were taken from an address in a village on the outskirts of Bridport some time overnight on Saturday. 

Dorset Police received a report of the theft shortly before 12pm on Sunday. 

A spokesman said: “We received a report at 11.46am on Sunday of the theft of five cocker spaniel dogs.

"It was reported that the theft occurred between 7pm on Saturday and 10am on Sunday.”

No arrests have been made at this stage and police say enquiries are ongoing into the incident. 

Dog owners are now being urged to ensure dog tags contain an owner’s name, postcode, and at least one contact number and to make sure dogs are microchipped, which is a legal requirement. 

Dorset Police’s rural crime team has advised owners not to leave dogs unattended if at all possible.

A spokesman said: “Dogs can be easily stolen from back gardens or vehicles or from outside premises or fields whilst owner is working. Dogs can even be taken whilst out on a walk – rare, but gangs in parts of UK are doing this.”

Dog owners should check home and garden boundaries and make sure gates and entrances are locked. Ideally, any kennels or pens should not be visible from the street. Any outside kennels need to be alarmed and securely locked. Pens with no roof can be easily accessed and a dog pulled from a pen. 

A spokesman said: “How easy is it to walk in or climb over your fence? Apart from the obvious fencing, where possible put up trellis on top or against wooden fencing, to make it harder to climb over. Plant thick thorny high shrubs. 

"A padlock or chain can be bolt-cropped in seconds so are you going to hear this when fast asleep or at the shops? Ensure you have PIR type alarm systems protecting your premises inside and outside.”

PIR alarms are activated when invisible beam is crossed and an alert is then sent to the owner or a visible alarm is activated. 

Officers warn against advertising on social media and telling others about your dogs. If you have a cold caller at your door about another matter, do not tell them about your dogs, even if asked.

Some offenders may enquire at the door and be checking out your premises as they talk to you. Get a warning poster from police or Trading Standards to display outside that cold callers are not welcome.

Be vigilant when using social media sites like Facebook and Gumtree, where puppy and dog ‘sellers’ and ‘rescues’ are selling stolen dogs or dogs in very poor health and are out to make money from a ‘donation’. 

A spokesman said: "Only use official rescues with a good reputation – research them first.

"Call police after any suspicious incident and try and get the registration number if they appear to be using a vehicle. Call 999 if you suspect a crime is in progress."